Bar associations fall behind IHC judges, demand SC intervention

In Local
March 27, 2024



ISLAMABAD:

Bar associations across Pakistan have demanded the Supreme Court’s (SC) intervention over the letter written by six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges regarding the interference of spy agencies in judicial functions.

A meeting was also held between Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Awan, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar and Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa. The judicial trio discussed the letter by the six IHC judges.

The Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) strongly condemned interference by the “executive branch or operatives of intelligence agencies in the judicial functions” of the courts to obtain favoured outcomes in cases or politically motivated cases.

The association called for the establishment of institutional mechanisms to safeguard the independence of the judiciary, including measures to protect judges from threats and external influence and strengthen accountability mechanisms.

The Balochistan Bar Council also stated that the allegations levelled by the IHC judges are worrisome and that former judge Shaukat Siddiqui had also expressed concerns regarding intervention by the country’s spy agencies.

The Council demanded that the apex court take sou motu notice of the letter and urged the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) to call an immediate lawyers convention to put forward a future course of action.

The Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBAR) also backed the letter by condemning the interference in judicial actions demanding that the institution and its outcomes be made transparent and unbiased.

The association also expressed their commitment to act as a vanguard in any movement aimed at securing the independence of the judiciary and Constitution

SC knocked

The apex court was also moved to order a high-powered inquiry commission to probe the allegations by a member of the Lahore High Court Bar Association.

The petitioner prayed for strict action against those found guilty of misconduct, stating that the allegations were a matter of public interest at large and those struggling for an independent, powerful and transparent judiciary.

It further said that the judges’ allegations have put the army and the judiciary in the public’s spotlight as both institutions are the backbone of Pakistan.

Read Ex-spymaster rejects IHC judge’s claims

Spy agencies interference

In an appalling turn of events, IHC judges including Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz—penned a letter yesterday to the SJC led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, expressing concerns about the “interference” of intelligence agencies in the affairs of the courts.

The letter stated, “We, therefore, request that a judicial convention be called to consider the matter of interference of intelligence operatives with judicial functions and/or intimidation of judges in a manner that undermines the independence of the judiciary.”

The open letter, a copy which has been sent to all SC judges, noted that such a convention might provide further information as to whether judges of other high courts have had experiences similar.

“Such institutional consultation might then assist the Supreme Court to consider how best to protect independence of the judiciary, put in place a mechanism to affix liability for those who undermine such independence and clarify for the benefit of individual judges the course of action they must take when they find themselves at the receiving end of interference and/or intimidation by members of the executive,” it added.

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